When my sons were little, pizza was served as a reward for a good report card, to celebrate a good game or a fun day at school. Sometimes even to enjoy with their friends who came over for sleepovers. And for me, it was my night off because then I didn’t have to cook.
One day, I ran out of pizza dough. To make semi-homemade pizza, I used to buy raw pizza dough from a neighborhood artisan pizza restaurant (yes, you can do that, too). Or I would buy the generic store-bought pizza dough. If I had plenty of time, I made pizza dough from scratch.
That night, minutes before meal time, I had absolutely no options and it was too late to jump into the car to drive to the grocery. When I opened my refrigerator to decide what to do next, I saw a pack of wonton skins. The idea hit me. I could use the bare Asian wontons as a pizza base.
I deep fried the wontons in a hot skillet a few at a time. It only took seconds to bring the wonton to life. Once I dipped the uncooked, soft piece into the frying pan, the edges turned golden brown and curled up slightly. So after a whole batch of 24 pieces of crisp wontons was ready, I piled on the pizza fillings. Just before serving, I popped the mini pizzas into the toaster oven. In minutes, the cheese topping melted and sizzled onto the ground beef filling, seeping down on the peppers, onions and pizza sauce. My family enjoyed the crackle of the thin pizza crust made of wontons which was a great backdrop to the savory beef filling and the fresh-tasting peppers.
Since that time I first made these pizza beef wontons from sheer lack of dough ingredients, I have served these bite-sized appetizers to my family and friends at potlucks, showers, birthday parties and many fun celebrations.
Sometimes when you lack an ingredient, the next best substitute can turn out to be the “breakout star” of the dish and that’s what makes a meal so memorable.
Pizza Beef Wontons
- 24 to 30 pieces wonton skins square or round
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic peeled, minced
- 2 whole onions one chopped for filling, the other sliced thin for topping onions
- 1/2 pound lean ground beef
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper powder
- 1 1/2 cup pizza sauce store-bought
- 1 cup sliced thin for topping red and green bell peppers
- 1/2 cup pitted olives for topping
- 1 to 2 cups freshly grated cheddar or mozarella for topping
- Make sure the wonton skins are thawed at room temperature and not frozen. Separate them individually and lay out on a flat, dry surface.
- In a medium-sized skillet, over medium high heat, add the vegetable oil. When oil is shimmering and hot enough (about 350 F if using a thermometer), add the wonton skins one at a time. Deep fry each side for about 30 seconds. Use a turner or tongs to flip the wonton skins over. Fry them a few at a time for best crispy results. Drain the fried wontons on parchment paper or paper towels. Set aside.
- To cook the beef filling: in the same skillet, use 1 tablespoon leftover oil (discard the rest), sauté the garlic, onions and ground beef for 1 to 2 minutes. When beef starts to turn from pink to brown, add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard and tomato paste on top. Blend well. Continue cooking for 8 minutes or more till the beef is cooked completely. Remove from heat and set aside.
- To assemble the pizza beef wontons: on each fried wonton, spread 1-2 tablespoons of pizza sauce, top with 1 tablespoon of the cooked beef filling, add bell pepper, onion strips, olives. Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of cheese on top.
- Put the individual crisp pizza beef wontons in the oven toaster. Over a HIGH setting, place the pizza beef wontons and toast for 1 to 2 minutes till cheese is melted and starts to drip down the sides. Using a pair of tongs, take out the pizza beef wontons carefully from the oven toaster. Arrange them on a large serving platter. Serve warm.
- COOK’S COMMENTS: Feel free to add other pizza toppings desired like pepperoni, mushrooms, Italian sausages, vegetables, or anything available.
- COOKING TIP: To save time, I fry the wonton skins ahead, drain them of excess oil on parchment paper and then store them in an air-tight container till they are ready to be assembled. Stores well for 1 to 2 days.
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe? I have more classic recipes inspired by my late mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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